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Francophone AFRICA Recovering from WAR & INSTABILITY By Eron Henry


Baptists in Francophone or French-speaking Africa have had to contend with serious, often severe, social and political upheavals that lead to protracted problems.


The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), a huge country (larger than all of Western Europe) with massive amounts of natural resources, has experienced the costliest war in human lives since World War Two. An estimated 5.4 million people have died as a result of fighting, starvation, diseases and other consequences of the Second Congo War, which began in 1998. Many deaths continued to occur even after the war officially ended in 2003. Millions more have been displaced in other countries. The DRC has nine groups that are member bodies of the Baptist World Alliance, the largest number of organizations from any one country in Africa, with a total of more than 1.5 million members. The largest, with more than one million members, is the Baptist Community of the Congo River. Rwanda underwent a horrendous genocide in 1994 that claimed more than 800,000 lives over a period of just over 100 of displaced persons fleeing to other countries due to clashes between government and rebel forces, mainly in the north. Some 135,000 Baptists are part of the three BWA groups in the CAR. The Civil War in Chad began in 2005 between the Arab Muslims of the north and the Sub-Saharan Christians of the south. This is the latest of the four civil wars that have occurred in the landlocked country since 1965.


The Consequences of War Kakule Molo, president of the Baptist Community in Central Africa (CBCA) in the DRC, which has approximately 200,000 members, said the war had a devastating effect on his country. The result has been a huge loss of life, violence, widespread poverty, deepening illiteracy, and inadequate healthcare. In pointing out that the DRC is possibly the most resource rich country on the planet, Molo, who was elected to the country’s parliament in 2005 and served until the end of 2011, said, “We are one of the richest countries in the world yet we are plagued by poverty.”


days, the culmination of longstanding ethnic competition and tensions between the minority Tutsi, who had held power for centuries, and the majority Hutu peoples. More than 350,000 Baptist members in three BWA member organizations are in Rwanda.


Burundi underwent a civil war that lasted 12 years, from 1993 through to 2005, due to protracted conflicts between Tutsis and Hutus. An estimated 300,000 persons have been killed as a result. The Union of Baptist Churches in Burundi numbers more than 35,000 members. The Central African Republic (CAR) has had a turbulent history marked by conflicts and political upheavals with thousands


18 BAPTIST WORLD MAGAZINE


War had a devastating effect . . . a huge loss of life, violence, in diamonds and other widespread poverty, deepening illiteracy, and inadequate healthcare. Congo is rich mineral wealth.


Approximately 70 percent of the minerals that are needed for cell phones and laptops, such as tin, tungsten, tantalum, and gold, are found only in eastern Congo, where most Baptists reside. “We have the second largest rainforest in the world, next to the Amazon,” Molo explained. “What caused the war is our richness because everyone would like to get involved in the exploitation of our resources.” There are people, he said, “who are destabilizing the Congo, not just from outside, but Congolese themselves.” Matters are complicated because the DRC is such a massive country. The church, he explained, is determined to step into the

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